Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Art is more Foundation than Frill: Profile of TO Curator Marsya Maharani Now Up at Yonge Street Media

In the last of a series of arts-related profiles for Yonge Street Media, I look at young Toronto curator Marsya Maharani.

Though just 25 years old, Maharani is gaining ground in breaking traditional silos between art, craft, design, fashion and DIY.

She is perhaps best known for her monthly exhibitions at Freedom Clothing Collective, but is also branching out this month with an Ontario Arts Council–funded trip to Indonesia to research textiles there.

There's a lot to be impressed about in terms of Marsya's drive, curiosity and organizational acumen, but I was particularly struck by her comments around the value of textile art in particular and the arts in general.

Here's an excerpt:

"The history of textile making has been very gender specific," Maharani explains. "I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it hasn't really been seen as a form of art. Essentially, textiles are beautiful things, and they mean a lot to culture and society."

Maharani knows the depth of textiles' cultural power firsthand. At 14, she faced a huge transition when her family (mom, dad and younger brother) immigrated from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Dufferin and Steeles. Getting involved in fashion events—from organizing Newtonbrook Secondary School's annual show to volunteering at the Fashion Design Council of Canada—was vital to making the move successfully.

"Reconnecting with people through the arts is a big deal," she says. "Being involved in the fashion show [in high school], for example, or collaborating with people in different projects really helped make Toronto my home."

Her response to those who say art is a frill, especially in tough economic times? "But that's when I turn to arts: when it's really hard, you know? I think that's what keeps you going."

To read the entire profile, including Marsya's thoughts on the tough job market young grads like her are facing, visit Yonge Street.

(Image of Marsya Maharani at Freedom Clothing Collective by Tanja-Tiziana for Yonge Street Media)

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